The people behind SAB’s big brewing

23 Jun 15


Great skills, talent and passion make great beer: SAB BIG BREWING


It takes an exceptional group of people to brew South Africa's best-loved beers.

Our much-loved brands have been a part of South Africans’ lives for over a century. Supplying retailers, taverns, bars and restaurants around the country with consistently great products means that our brewing operations need to be of the highest standard. Behind the billions of litres brewed to perfection is a team of highly qualified, passionate master brewers.

Brewing is both a science and an art; one which demands both technical accuracy and a flair for all things beer. A sound palate is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ability to brew beer.

Brewers are not just practically qualified, but must have extensive knowledge of the biology and materials of brewing. Managing the production of thousands of hectolitres of beer on a daily basis means that brewers need to have in-depth knowledge of everything about beer: from ingredients and fermentation to packaging and processing.

Each of our seven breweries across the country has a dedicated team of beer specialists to oversee beer production, overseen by at least one master brewer. The brewing teams are supported by various technical professionals: yeast specialists, process engineers, laboratory technicians and maltsters are just a few.

It takes a lot to brew big, but with an expert team with a passion for beer we’re able to produce 2.75 billion litres of the highest quality beer a year. That would fill about 1000 Olympic sized swimming pools!

To brew on this scale we manage every step of the brewing process, from start to finish, to ensure that the highest standards are adhered to. From the raw materials such as hops, barley and yeast, to the level of hygiene in our bottling process; we’re on top of it.
“I work on growing a beer culture by finding all the elements that allow us to present beer in all its golden splendour’. Anton Erasmus, SAB Trade Brewer & certified international beer judge
Brewing doesn’t keep to office hours.
“The job is definitely not a 9 to 5 one – when working night shift you will see some of the finest sun rises the city can offer.” Michael Oosthuizen, Brewing Manager at Polokwane Brewery
With over 4000 members from 95 countries, the IBD is the largest professional body for brewers and distillers in the world.
It has its origins over 130 years ago in Burton-on-Trent which was the centre of Britain’s brewing industry at the time.
A Master Brewer
This is the IBD’s most senior qualification. If a brewer has “M.Brew” behind their name, you know they have reached the highest level of brewing expertise.
It takes 7-10 years to become a Master Brewer.
To qualify as a Master Brewer one must pass several practical and theoretical exams and complete a dissertation. That’s on top of a prior degree and at least five years’ operational experience.
“The biggest misconception about my job is that it is a male-dominated field. We have lots of female brewers at SAB.” SAB Brewmaster Vanitha Engelbrecht, M.Brew
“Brewing is something you never stop learning.”SAB Trade Brewer Kate Jones, M.Brew

Kate hails from Burton on Trent, the same beer hub in Britain where the IBD originates

“What makes a great brew?
Great raw materials, a good process and most importantly passionate people.”SAB Consumer Science and Sensory Manager, Danie Odendaal, M.Brew
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We employ 10 Master Brewers across the country. They are supported by teams of specialists from sensory managers to process engineers.
Trade Brewers
Production Brewers
Brewing Managers
Trainee Brewers
Brewing Specialists
Yeast Specialists
Filtration Specialists
Fermentation Specialists
Taste Managers
Cellar Specialists
Technical Specialists
Lab Technicians
Brewery Microbiologists
Process Engineers
Utilities Engineers
Site engineers

Keep an eye on SAB Stories in the upcoming weeks as we explore more of what it means to be a big brewer.